Taipei is one of those cities where if you blink, you’ll miss it. But, once you open your eyes and immerse yourself in the city, it’ll be one of the most memorable visits of your life. Ancient temples dedicated to Buddhism in the heart of the city entice you to spend the day there, understand its problematic history with China and allow you to feast your eyes on rare historical artefacts. The city is lavish with eateries that cater to every foodie’s dream diary; from the succulent street dumplings to the pork buns that are made everywhere from street stalls to high-end restaurants, you’ll be hard pressed to find a store selling bad ones, as they’re the staple food here.
Satisfy all your food cravings at Taipei night markets!
The night street markets of Taipei are the places every traveler has to adjust their itinerary to, as they start late but end early. So, for a narrow window of time everyday, the streets in the Shilin and Wufenpu District offer a variety of food that’ll boggle the mind from fried octopus sticks to some of the best fried chicken you can find anywhere in the world; vintage clothes stalls frequent the narrow lanes of the markets; oddball goodies are sold at every conceivable place your eye falls to and the people are warm and genuine.
Wufenpu District is more Korean than Taipei in terms of clothes being offered, but come at a hugely discounted rate. The markets come alive under a dancing set of lights and lanterns, but with the audacious, generic signs of any chinatown. In an attempt to distance itself from its closest neighbour, Taipei attempts to offer authenticity in every department.
Guting is your secret must-see spot in Taipei!
With sky-rises that dwarf most European and North American cities, walking around central or downtown Taipei is nerve-wracking but once adjusted, you’ll find the city is easy to navigate. The streets are jam packed with cars, but with a superbly efficient system, the traffic on the road is rarely stalled and if cars don’t tickle your fancy, the subway system is easy to navigate with signs in English and almost every local ready to offer a helping hand. Just don’t take any pictures inside the trains, as they’re extremely strict about that!
Make your way to the district of Guting for some culinary delights. Despite the lack of wonder and pizzaz on display in the neighbourhood, it’s the street-side and hole in the wall store outlets that’ll fascinate any traveler. The food in Guting is unmatched with the numerous restaurants primary focus on getting the genuine home-made taste inside each of their meals. A university and young family area, walk around to find yourself bumping into a surprising amount of expats having coffee or eating dumplings at the busy intersections that make up this district’s lifestyle.
Get a taste of Taiwan’s history!
From Guting, rent a bike or jump on a train to make your way to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. The most famous symbol of both Taipei and the Republic of China, it is here that Taiwan’s flag is raised every morning. A giant stone court yard lays in front of the memorial hall, which consists of a large bronze statue of Chiang Kai-shek, watched over by two motionless honour guards who are replaced every hour in a rifle twirling ceremony - a must-see if you’re there! The memorials, the gardens with their Chinese style ponds and the rifle twirling ceremony make this centrally located attraction worth a visit.
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Understand why Taipei is slowly becoming so popular!
From there, make your way to the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, constructed in the memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen who is the founding father of the Republic Of China. The park named Zhongshan Park marks the front yard of the Hall. On the inside, there is a 19-foot bronze statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, watched over the day by yet another set of motionless military honor guards. From there, it’s a hop, skip and jump to the Taipei International Financial Center, a 101-floor 508-meter high skyscraper in the heart of Taipei and the second tallest skyscraper in the world.
One of the safest cities in Asia
Taipei is one of the safest cities in Asia to travel in. The crime rate is very low and you’ll find people being much more helpful than aggressive in any situation, as they tend to be quite timid. Taipei is a surprise package and as long as one goes in there blind, expecting nothing from this surprisingly dense city, you’re bound to have a time. A rarity on an itinerary, Taipei is fast becoming a must-visit city in Eastern Asia.
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